10 Best Pokémon Coordinators In The Anime, Ranked
Tom Steel
Introduced in Generation III, Pokémon Contests added a new dynamic to the series, allowing for focus to be shared more with Ash's travel companions without losing the dramatic edge that competitions provide, which in turn helps the overall pacing.
Except for a few rare occasions, Ash steps back when it comes to Pokémon Contest time, allowing other characters to shine. Pokémon Contests themselves are still intense but arguably more technical than battles — and definitely a lot easier on the eye. Various Pokémon Coordinators have made appearances throughout the series, with some leaving more of a lasting impression than others.

10 Solidad Defeated May When It Counted

Pokemon brock coming on to solidad
Pokemon brock coming on to solidad
Solidad is friends with Drew, one of May's biggest rivals, and she later ends up defeating May in the Kanto Grand Festival. This Contest and the insinuation that she defeated Drew in the past are among the few examples of her in action in the anime, but what is seen of her is impressive nonetheless.
Instead of opting for naturally cute Pokémon, she seems to use powerful fully evolved species that could easily also be used in battle, like Slowbro, Pidgeot, Butterfree, and Lapras.

9 Harley's Mischievous Streak Clouded Whether He Was Actually A Good Coordinator

Pokemon Harley Ariados
Pokemon Harley Ariados
Harley is a mischievous rival to May who always schemes to throw May off her game during Pokémon Contests. This rarely works in his favor, although he does get one major win over May in Wisteria Town Pokémon Contest when his Octillery defeats May's Munchlax.
As a crafty trainer with dark intentions, his roster of Pokémon fits his personality perfectly, with all of them known to be mischievous on occasion in their own ways, from Cacturne and Banette to Ariados, Octillery, and Wigglytuff.

8 Robert Was Too Much For Drew To Handle

Robert Winning Pokemon Contest
Robert Winning Pokemon Contest
Robert is another example of a top Pokémon Coordinator who isn't shown nearly enough in the anime, but his talent and strength is still obvious for all to see. He seems to be the foil to Drew whenever they meet, with Robert surpassing him to win first at the Slateport City Contest and later at the Hoenn Grand Festival, where he wins the entire thing.
Robert is only seen using Claydol and Milotic, but it can be safely assumed that he possesses at least one more exceptional Pokémon of the same caliber.

7 Dawn's Childhood Friend Kenny Became A Competent Rival

Pokemon Kenny Sinnoh
Pokemon Kenny Sinnoh
Kenny is Dawn's childhood friend and becomes a part of the intriguing and competitive Pokémon Contest circuit in Diamond & Pearl, one of several promising Coordinators all vying to be the best.
Kenny loses to Jessie, Zoey, and Dawn at certain points, but still manages to win three Contests himself in impressive fashion with an equally impressive and diverse team. Kenny's main Pokémon is Empoleon, but he also uses Alakazam, Breloom, Machoke, and Floatzel.

6 Jessie's Greatest Success Came In Pokémon Contests

Jessie is a consistent feature of the Pokémon anime as a part of Team Rocket, but when Pokémon Contests are introduced, a whole new side of her is also unveiled under the guise of Jessilina.
While she consistently finishes 4th in all of the Hoenn Contests, she comes into her own at the Sinnoh Contest in Diamond & Pearl, finishing as runner-up and also winning several in the process. Jessie's presence at the Contests is a welcome change of pace for the usually full-time evildoer, especially because "victories" isn't a word normally associated with her branch of Team Rocket.

5 Nando Was A Staple Of The Competitive Sinnoh Contest Circuit

Fantina Nando Zoey
Fantina Nando Zoey
Nando put in a good showing against Ash at the Lily of the Valley Conference but ultimately lost. However, he was much more accomplished in the anime as a Pokémon Coordinator, accredited with victories at the Hearthome Pokémon Contest and the Beach Rose Contest.
His team isn't necessarily as powerful on paper as those of many other top Coordinators, but with the likes of Lopunny, Sunflora, Roserade, Kricketune, and Altaria, his team is flashy and skilled enough to perform well in Contests.

4 Drew Was One Of May's Main Rivals

Harley Drew Solidad Pokemon Contest
Harley Drew Solidad Pokemon Contest
While Harley is a nasty and deceitful rival to May in Ruby & Sapphire, Drew is more of an honorable rival for her, with both mainly wanting to do their best. While Drew is only shown winning one ribbon in the anime, it's often implied that he has won many others — just rarely ones that May participates in.
This doesn't mean that it's necessarily a one-sided rivalry as they both get wins over one another at various points. Drew and his strong team of Roserade, Masquerain, Flygon, Absol, and Butterfree always fight until the end but are usually foiled by the likes of Robert and Solidad.

3 Zoey Was One Of The Most Naturally Gifted Pokémon Coordinators

zoeys glameow from pokemon
zoeys glameow from pokemon
Zoey is by the far the kindest and friendliest of rivals to Dawn in Diamond & Pearl, and the two get along well despite their competitive opposition. Although she's only seen winning two ribbons at Jubilife and Brussel, she wins many others elsewhere. Zoey's team is one of the strongest in terms of typing spread and Contest capabilities, making her one of the best Coordinators in the entire series.
Apart from her trusty Glameow, Zoey ends up with an entire party of fully evolved Pokémon. With the exception of her Leafeon and Glameow, she evolves all of her Pokémon during the series, ending up with Gallade, Lumineon, Gastrodon, and Mismagius, creating a formidable team.

2 May Won A Lot Of Contests Throughout Her Travels

It's hard to exclude May among the ranks of the top Pokémon Coordinators in the anime, despite getting a mixture of good and not-so-good results. As she begins her Contest journey in Ruby & Sapphire, her rocky start leads in turn to her growth, and her improvements are all clear from everyone to see.
Utilizing multiple different Pokémon, from starters like Torchic and Squirtle to other useful Pokémon like Beautifly, Munchlax, and Skitty, May tallies around ten Contest victories by the time she parts ways with Ash and she even returns to face Dawn in another intense bout.

1 Dawn Managed To Clinch Multiple Contest Victories Despite Many Rivals And Intense Competition

One of Ash's travel companions during his Sinnoh adventures, Dawn, is shown improve even more than May during Diamond & Pearl, managing to defeat May herself in the process. She may not get as many Contest wins as May, but as the anime explores Contests further in later series, Dawn and her Pokémon seem to break more ground.
From her cute Pokémon like Piplup, Pachirisu, and Buneary to larger and stronger participants in Mamoswine, Ambipom, and Togekiss, Dawn engages in some intense rivalries and creates some unforgettable Contest highlights.